Kidnapped DRC journalist released unharmed but traumatised

Kidnapped DRC journalist released unharmed but traumatised

Palmares newspaper journalist Mag Mikombe, who was kidnapped last Tuesday in front of the premises of the DR Congo public broadcaster in the capital Kinshasa, was released alive and unharmed on Thursday, United Nations-funded Radio Okapi reported on its digital edition.

Mikombe, who is believed to have been kidnapped by unknown gunmen hired by the city’s Provincial Legislature boss Roger Mbemba Nsingi, was taken to an undisclosed location, then thrown into a filthy police cell in central Kinshasa, local media reports said.

Nsingi was reportedly angered by Mikombe’s October 7 article which criticised him for running the provincial national assembly like his own shop.

Family and friends feared for the journalist’s life in a country where more than 15 journalists have been killed in the past seven years, and many more tortured and jailed for daring to criticise the head of state, governement’s policies, or any ruling party member or corrupt businessmen allied to the regime.

But Mikombe was lucky not to have been harmed, and lived another day to tell the tale of his ordeal.

“They took me directly to the town hall to open a case against me for difamation, and I was later transferred to a police station near the Mama Yemo General Hospital, and then released after 48 hours,” he was quoted by Radio Okapi as saying.

A traumatised Mikombe also described the conditions of the police cell as ‘unbearable’.

Congolese media watchdog Journaliste en Danger (JED) described Mikombe’s kidnapping and ordeal as a very serious act of abuse of power.

DRC, a vast and mineral-rich Central African nation, is a dangerous country for human rights activists and critical journalists to operate in, as respect for human rights, freedom of expression and media liberties are non-existent.

Photo: DRC journalist Mag Mikombe was kidnapped near this rundown building in the capital Kinshasa.

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